How to Build Your Own Workout Routine

​A good workout routine determine whether you achieve you goal or not. Here you can find the fundamentals to create your workout routine.

Bonus Download: Download our FREE checklist to create your own workout routine. Click here to download!

Goals - Write down the purpose of this workout routine

This is the first step in creating a successful workout routine. The workout routine depends on your goal.

If your goal is to build muscle, you shall have a routine that aims for maximum hypertrophy(muscle growth).

If it is to improve strength - the workout routine changes.

So you have to clearly define your goal.

When i joined gym the my goal is to build muscle as i was skinny. I was weak too.

But my workout routine was a disaster!

Yes disaster.

I have shared it in previous post.

I train 6 days per week with 3 day split. Each body part trained two times per week.

Lot of sets and reps.

I had lifted weights for 1 and half hour, feeling happy when my muscles are filled with blood.

Wow awesome pump.

If i have done this workout once every 3 months or 2 months, it will be awesome. I will get a metabolic push, muscles will be shocked by this workout.

Will be good to give a shock to your muscles.

That helps to break a plateau.

Let's rewrite the routine

My goal at that time is to build muscle and strength( it still remain the same :P)

But my workout routine cause overtraining with those infinite sets and reps.

This happened because of my wrong thought, that if i workout more i will build more muscles.

No progress!

Now you know the importance of goal and a workout that helps you to achieve that.

The wishes that google see daily

● To Build muscle.

  • how to build muscles without going to gym
  • how to build muscles at home
  • how to build muscles in your arms
  • how to build biceps
  • how to build muscles at home fast
  • how to build muscles fast

● To Lose weight.

  • how to lose weight at home
  • how to lose weight without exercise
  • how to lose weight naturally
  • how to lose weight fast without exercise
  • how to lose weight fast

● To increase strength

  • how to increase strength in arms
  • how to increase strength by food
  • how to increase stamina
  • how to increase strength and stamina
  • how to increase strength of body
  • how to increase strength without weights
  • how to increase strength at home

Why i use the term wish?

A goal without an end date is a wish.

People want to lose fat, build muscle, improve strength.

They have a goal and a workout, but how many will achieve their goal.

Fewer number will achieve their goal, because they don't have an end date or the date they want to achieve their goal.

One more thing, you have to be specific with your goal. Being specific means you have to decide how much muscles that you want to add or how much fat you want to lose.

So the wish

  • I want to build muscle
  • I want to lose muscle

Be specific

  • I want to build 5Lb of muscle
  • I want to lose 5Lb of fat

From wish to goal

  • I want to build 5 Lb of muscle before October 20__
  • I want to lose 5 Lb of fat before October 20__

Don't set unrealistic goals, like adding 30lb muscles in 3 months. These goals will make you lose motivation.

Set small but realistic goals that will motivate you while you achieve them.

Read the goal part above and if you can find one, write down the goal ( with date and; be specific)

Let's move to next part in your workout that depends on how busy or how lazy you are :P.

Find your time -The time you can devote to exercise

You have a goal, yes, a specific goal , now it's time to find out the time to workout.

This doesn't mean that you have to workout for hours if you have that much time like i did during my beginner stage.

I have spare time in evening, so after school i went to gym and lifted, lifted and return home.

If you are on tight schedule you can do a 10 min full body circuit training, that is enough to ramp up your metabolism.

Choose a time duration for your workout.

It can be 10 min to 60 minutes.

Research had shown that your body will be in a catabolic(muscle breakdown) state when your training extends above 60 min.

Try to keep your training inside this time limit.

Write down the time along with your goals.

15 min circuit training

Bench press 8-10 reps

Dumbbell rows 8-10 reps

Dumbbell press 10 reps

Lunges 10 reps

Biceps curl 10 reps

Triceps dips 10 reps

Complete 1 sets each and rest for 2 min.

Repeat 3 more sets.

The training frequency - number of times your muscles get trained in a week

Training frequency is how many times you train each muscles in 7 days. You can train 6 days, 5 days, 4 days, 3 days or even 2 days per week, but it's the frequency of training that you have to focus.

Training frequency depends on your recovery rate, workout intensity and volume.

If you are a person with faster recovery, then training each muscles 3 times/ week will not be a problem.

The other two factors are intensity and volume.

Beginners can choose a higher frequency training, as you will perform low intensity and low volume during beginner state.

As your intensity goes up, you have to change either frequency or volume in order to avoid over training.

When your frequency is fixed, you can either change the intensity or volume to induce muscle growth.

In weight training the intensity refers to the weight lifted. It is the amount of effort produced compared to effort possible.

Volume is product of number of reps, sets and weight lifted in a workout session; it is the amount of work done.

Volume= Reps *Sets *weight

Higher volume workout has been shown to increase hypertrophy. The research has shown some interesting things.

Beginners will get most benefit from low volume sets. As you progress you can increase your volume.

These are top three workout variables that can make or break your workout program.

We have an in depth article on 8 workout variables and how to tune them for supercharging your muscle growth.

Lets look at a training routine

Hitting muscles once per week

Monday

Chest, triceps

Tuesday

Legs

Thursday

Back , biceps

Friday

Shoulder, abs, calves

Hitting twice

Monday

Push workouts

Tuesday

Pull workouts

Thursday

Push workouts

friday

Pull workouts

Hitting three times

Monday

Full body workouts

Wednesday

Full body workouts

friday

Full body workouts

Choose the training splits

You have a goal, workout duration and frequency written down.

Now it's time to create an outline for your workout. There are ton of possible combination that you can design.

There are lot of workout routines, search results on google for workout routines will give you 1000’s of workout routines.

I will give you different options and their benefits that can be considered while creating your workout routine.

I am planning to create workout routines that includes the following training splits and will be available for you in near future.

But you don't need to wait for that.

You can create your own workout routine today itself.

Muscles trained once per week

Workout 1

Monday- chest

Tuesday- back

Wednesday- shoulder

Thursday- arms

Friday- legs

Workout 2

Monday - upper body

Wednesday- lower body

Workout 3

Monday -Chest, triceps

Wednesday- back, biceps

Friday- shoulder, abs

Saturday- legs

Muscles trained twice per week

Workout 1

Monday- upper body

Tuesday- lower body

Thursday- upper body

Friday- lower body

Workout 2

Monday -full body

Thursday - upper body

Friday - lower body

Workout 3

Monday- push workouts

Tuesday- pull workouts

Thursday- push workouts

Friday- pull workouts

Muscles trained three times per week

Workout 

Monday- full body

Wednesday- full body

Friday- full body

Full body workout Splits

No need to describe what a full body workout means- you have to hit every muscle part in your body.

The training intensity will be low and thus good for beginners. As they increase their training intensity, they can move over to upper/ lower split or push / pull split training.

Lets look at some exercise for each muscle part.

Chest: Push up, flat bench press, dumbbell press, incline bench press, dips.

Back: pull up, chin up, deadlift, dumbbell rows and other rows, lat pull down.

Shoulder: seated barbell and dumbbell press, dumbbell side, rear and front raise, barbell shrugs.

Legs: squat, leg curls and extension, leg press, stiff legged deadlift, donkey calf raise, seated calf raise, standing calf raise.

Biceps: pull up, biceps curl using dumbbell, barbell and cable.

Triceps: dips, close grip bench press, dumbbell kickback.

Abs: crunches, sit ups

Your forearms will get its share from all the above exercise.if you want more load the bar with 20% more weight than you do in a shrug and lift the bar and hold for 20s. Repeat for 3 sets.

With full body split you can try any frequency whether it's 6 times, 5 ….1. But it's good to stay within 4.

Upper body / lower body split

While you progress from beginner, you can change the routine to upper/ lower split.

In a full body routine you will work one exercise per body part, while in an upper lower split you can do 2 exercise per body part.

You can use upper lower split to train your body once or twice, or three times per week.

Upper body :

Chest, back, shoulder, biceps, triceps, forearm, abs.

Lower body:

Quads, hamstrings, calves.

Push pull split:

This split is based on the action you perform while doing workouts.

The exercise that pulls weights towards your body will come under pill workouts.

Pull workouts: all types of rows, biceps curls, shrugs,

The exercise in which you push weights away from your body come under push workouts.

Push workouts: bench press, push ups, dips, squat, leg press, shoulder press

You can use push, pull split to train your body once or twice, or three times per week.

Body part routines

Workout plan based on individual muscles. This routine helps to work your muscles at maximum intensity.

In other routines we cannot hit all muscles at same intensity. For eg: while doing full body routine; chest, quads and back are trained back and forth which can only be trained at a low intensity. You can’t hit all these major muscles in full intensity.Beginners can follow full body routine.

Body part routines will be most beneficial for advanced people.

So now you have a goal, duration of workout, frequency, and training splits. It will now look similar to this,

Goal - build muscle

Duration- 60min

Frequency - muscles trained once /week

Training splits- body part routine

Goal - build muscle and strength

Duration- 30min

Frequency - muscles trained twice /week

Training splits- upper/ lower training split

How many sets to target?

I do 3- 4 sets per exercise (This doesn’t include the warm up sets)

I mean 3-4 working sets, the thing you do to hit your goals whether its strength or muscle building.

Total working sets in a workout can be 15-20. It will reduce the chance for overtraining and helps you to hit each exercise at max intensity.

While in my beginner days i have done 10-15 sets for concentration curls alone. Thinking about a bigger biceps :(. Don't do these kind of mistakes.

Sample chest day routine:

Flat bench press : 4 sets

Dumbbell flys: 3 sets

Incline bench press : 3 sets

Dips: 3 sets

Your worksheet:

Goal - build muscle

Duration- 60min

Frequency - muscles trained once/week

Training splits- body part routine

Sets - 15-20 (3-4 per exercise)

How many reps to aim for?

Do you want to know the reps performed with those 10-15 sets in my concentration curls?

I have done it until i feel the pain in my biceps.

This type of training will not bring any muscle growth.

You have to set the rep structure based on your goals.

To build muscle - use a rep range 6 - 10

To improve strength - use a rep range of 4-6

For endurance - use a rep range of 8 -14

I want to tell you one important thing related to reps. I found this after i have corrected my beginner mistakes and started doing 3-4 sets and 10 reps.

I have seen a progress in the beginning, but after that i feel bored and changed workouts and i hit a plateau.

I don't know what happened, and i thought that i had reached my max.

Because i thought adding more muscle will need steroids.

Now i understand that it is easy to build muscles as a beginner. As we became so called advanced lifters (doing crazy workouts) the process become slower.

It took long time to find out the mistake i was making. Could you guess what the mistake i was making?

My regular bench press was similar to this:

Week 1- Bench press

Set 1: 40kg *10 reps

Set 2: 60kg *10 reps

Set 3: 80kg *10 reps

Set 4: 100kg *10 reps

Week 2- Bench press

Set 1: 40kg *10 reps

Set 2: 60kg *10 reps

Set 3: 80kg *10 reps

Set 4: 100kg *10 reps

Week 3- Bench press

Set 1: 40kg *10 reps

Set 2: 60kg *10 reps

Set 3: 80kg *10 reps

Set 4: 100kg *10 reps

Same weight, same reps week after week, the only change is week.

This routine eliminated my beginner mistakes as there were 10 reps and 4 sets per exercise. But i lost the key thing, progressive overload.

Yes overload:

If you want to add muscles you have to increase the weight you lift. So that your muscles will have the stimulus to grow, your muscles need a reason to grow.

Your body will recruit more muscles to lift heavy load.

Let's make a small change that will help to build more muscles.

Week 1 - Bench press

Set 1: 40kg *10 reps

Set 2: 60kg *10 reps

Set 3: 80kg *10 reps

Set 4: 100kg *10 reps

Week 2 - Bench press

Set 4 105 kg * 8 reps

Week 3 - Bench press

Set 4 105 kg * 10 reps

Week 4 - Bench press

Set 4 110kg * 6 or 8 reps

How to do progressive overload?

  • Increase the weight if you hit 10 reps on your last set in any exercise
  •  Next week try to do 10 or 8 or 6 
  • If you can do 10 reps, then increase the weight next week
  •  If not, try to hit 10 the following week 
  • Repeat

My problem solved 🙂

Add reps to your worksheet

Goal - build muscle

Duration- 60min

Frequency - Muscles trained once/week

Training splits- body part routine

Sets - 15-20 (3-4 per exercise)

Reps - 6 - 10

The rest between sets - based on your Goals

Your energy reserve will recycle during this interval. Various rest periods will affect your lifting.

Rest interval less than 30s will increase your metabolic stress and it is beneficial for muscle growth.

But this can affect your lifts, as you cannot use your full potential.

Longer rest intervals(2+min) will be beneficial to powerlifters and for those who want to break their personal records.

Medium rest interval ( 60-90s)will be good for maximum muscle growth .Major share of your strength will be regained in 60s.

For hypertrophy -  60-90s

For strength - 120- 180 s ( enables to use your full potential)

Your worksheet will contain these :

Goal - build muscle

Duration- 60min

Frequency - Muscles trained once/ week

Training splits- body part routine

Sets - 15 -20(3-4 per exercise)

Reps - 6 - 10

Rest interval- 60-90s

How much weight should be lifted?

Choose a weight that you can’t easily do 10 reps.

How can you find it ?

You can find it while workout. (So leave it blank)

While lifting add more weight if you can do 10 reps with ease. When it's hard for you to hit 10 reps you have find your target weight.

Lets look at my case in the very beginning and let's see bench press

Set 1-10kg

Set 2 - 20kg

Set 3 -30kg

Set 4 - 40kg

Set 5 - 50kg

[ Why this pattern?- 5kg weight plates added each sets 🙂 ]

It's really hard to hit 50 kg and as you can see my energy is spend to lift 10, 20, and 30 kg. If i want to grow i will have to lift weights that came around 50 kg ( 40 - 60).

Don’t spend your energy on very low weights, muscle building happens when you lift heavy.

But don't skip warmup sets, otherwise you will end up in injury.

Your working sets must use a weight near to this target weight.

Warm up sets

Set 1 60% target weight

Set 2 80% target weight

Set 3 100%

Set 4 105% of target weight(progressive overload)

How long should i exercise?

If you are on a busy schedule 10min or 30 min workout is good; as something is better than nothing.

45 min to 1 hour works best

I finish my workout in 60 min. That includes warm-up, workout, stretching and warm down.

Your workout must include warm up exercise, stretching and warm down exercise.

Warm up exercise:

This will prepare your body for workouts. Your heart rate and blood flow will increases. Your joints will be warmed up and will be ready to take the shock while workout. Your body temperature will increase.

Stretching:

Perform stretching after your workout.Do not perform it before warm up as this can weaken your muscles and lead to injury.

Warm down:

Do warm down exercise to bring your body back to resting state. Bring down the heart rate and blood flow back to normal. Warm up exercise when done in a slow pace can warm down. Continue warm down exercise til your heart rate had returned to normal.

Workout plan

Warm up exercise

Lifting exercise

Stretching

Warm down exercise

build your own workout roitine

Less time more effective training

If you are busy and don't have enough time you can try these workouts. I got this idea from nerdfitness.com. He told about alternate sets and circuits.

Circuit training:

In circuit training you will do one set from each exercise without rest. After completing all exercise you take 1-2 min rest and move on to do another set, complete the circuit with 3-4 sets.

Biceps, triceps, quads and calves

1set Biceps curl

1st bench dips

1st set leg press

1st set calves

2min rest

Repeat 3x

Alternate sets or super sets:

In supersets or alternate sets you will be doing more in less time. You will combine 2 exercise and doing one set from both exercise and then take rest. Repeat 2-3 sets.

Biceps and leg supersets

1st set Biceps curl

1st set leg extension

1 min rest

Repeat 2x

Which exercise to select and workout?

Your muscles( mine too) are complex sets of fibers that connects and pulls bones upon stimulus.

In order to hit those muscles and to have an overall development you have to use both multi joint and single joint exercise.

Compound exercise or multi joint exercise uses more muscle groups and thus provide max return to your effort. As it uses more muscle groups, your lifting could improve at a faster pace.

Isolation exercise or single joint exercise target one or two muscle groups, thus effective for lagging muscles.

You must use both in your workout routine.

Compound exercise:

Chest

Bench press, dips

Back:

Deadlift, barbell rows

Shoulder

Shoulder press

Legs

Squat

Isolation exercise

Chest:

Dumbbell Flys

Biceps:

Preacher Curls

Triceps:

Triceps extension

Legs

Leg extension

If your goal is muscle building or strength then give more importance to compound exercise. Even If it is fat loss; compound exercise will do its work because it's your diet will determine whether you are going to lose fat or not.

Choose 2- 3 compound exercise and 1-2 isolation exercise for your workout routine.

Compound exercise will work secondary muscles along with your target muscles. The addition of isolation exercise will kill your target muscles without involving secondary muscles.

For beginners it's better to choose compound workouts over isolation workouts.

Workout routine design

Goal - Define your goal

Duration- the time you have to do the workout

Frequency - The number of times you want to train your body.

Training splits- Choose either a full body, or upper/lower split, or push/pull split

Sets - 15-20 (3-4 per exercise)

Reps - based on your goals

Rest interval- Based on your goals

Exercise - 2-3 compound exercise and 1-2 isolation exercise. For beginners choose compound over isolation exercise.

Bonus Download: Get your FREE checklist to build the best workout routine.

workout routine checklist download
Arun Kumar T
 

Arun is the founder @workoutable. He is Learning different ways to transform his body from fat to fit. Himself as a crash test dummy, experimenting with his body. He is trying to help people to transform their body.

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